Yahoo directory listing- is it worth the money?

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The Yahoo directory has long been part of the staple of many a link building campaign. A lot of SEO’s still seem to recommend it (although I doubt many have tested it properly) but is one directory link really worth $300/ year?

Sometimes but usually not is the short answer, read on for the long answer…

Yahoo directoryStrengths of the Yahoo Directory

Yahoo.com is one of the oldest sites around and the directory is older than Google so it’s well regarded as a trustworthy source of links. What’s more when Google first started indexing the web and creating PageRank directories like Yahoo probably played a pretty big part in that original benchmarking. Fast forward to 2011 and Google still look for trust signals from reputable sources with some level of editorial control. If I remember rightly until pretty recently the Yahoo directory actually got a mention in the Google webmaster guidelines. In terms of the domain itself dir.yahoo.com has a PageRank of 8/10 and SEOmoz give the root domain a “domain authority” score of 93/100. There’s over 6000 sites linking to the directories homepage. So in short it’s still a powerful site to have a link from and on some level a Yahoo directory link is only going to help your rankings.

It’s also one of the few authority links you can get away with buying without falling foul of the paid link police.

Problems with the Yahoo Directory

All of the problems really stem from the cost of submission. $299/ year (or $600 for adult sites!). So if you keep your listing for 5 years you’ll of spent $1500 on one link. Now if your link budget is in the hundreds of thousands that’s going to look like a drop in the ocean but for everyone else it’s a reasonable investment and one which is worth considering carefully before you dive in.

Despite what you might read you can expect to get zero traffic from a Yahoo directory listing and if you get a couple of visits you can be pleasantly surprised. It really is just an SEO link. But how much value does it actually pass and will it help you rank?

Really this depends on the category where you get listed. With such a big, deep directory that PR 8 homepage value diminishes pretty quickly as you get a few levels down. If what you do is very niche chances are you’ll find your listing ends up in a remote deep category at least 5 or 6 levels deep. At that level the link is only going to pass a small amount of PR. In some cases the page might not even be indexed. If you’re a local business it gets even worse – you’re likely to end up as much as 11 levels deep like this Brighton hotels category. For this reason I rarely recommend the Yahoo directory to local businesses.

deep category listings in Yahoo directory
The strict guidelines for Yahoo directory submission are both it’s saviour and it’s curse. Because they’re strict Google still seems to like to use them as a trusted link source, but it also means:

  • The editors will bury you into a crap category (SEO speaking) because it’s the most relevant
  • You can only link to your homepage rather than an internal money page
  • You can only use your site name for the link which means unless you’ve got a keyword rich domain the anchor text won’t really help you rank.

Don’t get me wrong this is all stuff a good directory should be doing, it’s just not exactly optimal from an SEO point of view.

So what you’re left with is basically an expensive link which you’re buying pretty much exclusively to increase your websites “trust” (note I consider this to be very different to PageRank). The thing about trust is it’s a bit of a mythical beast, it’s extremely hard to measure, test or prove. It’s also not likely to be something which can come from a single link source or type of link. If you look at the sites in your niche which you’d regard to be “trusted” they’ve probably got links from a wide range of sources- not just high value directory listings. To some extent I think trust also comes from link volume, so you need to weigh up the alternative ways you could spend that money and maybe get more links or even better links.

Over the last 6 months I’ve cancelled the renewals on 5 yahoo directory listings and while I don’t claim to have controlled this in away way so I can call it a test, I haven’t seen anything which makes me think I’ve lost trust from those links being removed. Traffic and my ability to rank new content for long to mid-tail phrases has remained consistent or continued to improve. I think maybe if you only have a small handful of links you may still notice the repercussions of removing a listing but in a sea of hundreds or thousands of linking domains it’s hard to think one link will make that much difference.

If you’re considering a paid Yahoo directory listing I’d ask a few questions first:

Can I afford it? If you’re looking at remortgaging the house to pay the submission fee you should probably think twice. I wouldn’t pay more than 5% of my annual link budget on one link. That would mean unless you’ve got over $6000 to spend on links for your site in a year you probably shouldn’t consider it. On the other hand if the fee would account for less than 1% of your budget (i.e. you’re spending $30,000+ a year on links) its probably worth doing.

Is it worth it? This is closely related to the question above but what I’m getting at here is whether you make enough on what your site is selling to justify spending this much on a link. If you’re selling a product which you earn $500 per unit on then that listing only has to get you one extra sale to pay for itself. If you’re selling something with a $1 margin you’ll need to shift 300 extra units just to cover the cost of the listing. Look at the search demand for your product and decide  if this is realistic.

What category can I get in? Browse through the directory and work out what categories you might be able to get listed in. Assume the editors will move you to the lowest and most relevant category (doesn’t always happen but it’s possible). What sort of metrics does that page have? Look at PageRank, mozRank, AC rank, number of outbound links, links from internal sources, links from external sources (if any). Link buyers will have a better idea of what it would cost them to get links of a similar quality through text link ads but ultimately you just have to make a judgement here. If it’s not got any toolbar pagerank/ mozRank I wouldn’t bother personally.

Can it help me rank? Assuming the link anchor text will be your site name, will that help you rank? Yahoo Directory can still be useful if you’ve got a new exact match domain you’re trying to rank for the exact match keyword but for everyone else you should be ranking for your brand name anyway.

Do I need it? If you’re an established site who already has some PageRank and maybe even some of that trust stuff, are you really going to see a notable improvement in your rankings across the board by adding a Yahoo Directory link? If your domains more than a few years old, has more than a few hundred linking domains or has any other means of getting trust links from .edu/.ac.uk sites I’d doubt you’ll get value from Yahoo directory submission.

Do I have a hard time getting authority links? If you fall within a competitive or slightly dirty niche but think you can get away with a listing on Yahoo it might be worth doing. Yes I’m talking to you erectile dysfunction medication affiliates:-)

What are the alternatives?

Another way to look at whether a yahoo listing is worth the money is to ask what else you could do with that $300/ year (within the realm of link building- I’m not talking about high class hookers or class A’s!). Here’s some ideas…

  • Buy a permanent listing on BOTW.org – I’d seriously consider this one, botw isn’t as authoritative but it’s better organised, has less spam and let’s you submit internal pages. You can pay a one off fee which is the same price as the Yahoo recurring fee.

Botw.org and Botw.org.uk are probably a better option for local businesses

  • Buy permanent listings on a handful of lower level directories like joeant.com
  • Rent a link on the homepage of a relevant site in your niche or your local student union website
  • Hire the authority blogger in your niche to write a post for your site (bound to get you a link or two)
  • Commission a small piece of research or online survey
  • Hire a decent writer to produce 5000 words for an in-depth link bait piece
  • Hire a blogger to write 5 guest posts to publish on other sites

I guess the point is there’s plenty of ways to spend that money without the recurring fee and with the possibility of getting you more links in the future. Certainly anything which  involves producing content for link bait is a bit more risky in that you’re not guaranteed any links but at least you get the content to publish on your site which should drive some long tail search traffic even if it fails to get links.

At the end of the day it you have infinite budget you’ll want to get listed in Yahoo and everywhere else you can. But for everyone else I’d seriously consider alternative options. And if you’ve got a renewal coming up for your Yahoo listing it might be worth reviewing whether you still need that link enough to justify $300.

35 Comments Yahoo directory listing- is it worth the money?

  1. Pingback: How to Beat A Panda

  2. Pete

    I really wouldn’t bother with the Yahoo directory, yes I sure it will help but i just can’t see how it can be worth the money, you would be much better off spending that $300 on yearly links from some blogs which have decent content that is related to your website. Google hates paid links and says so but they can’t tell if links in blogs are paid or not so they will still count, despite advise and even mention from google I can’t see how Google can see this as anything but a paid link. It isn’t a judge of quality, I’m sure any legal site would be able to buy a link on it. In the past I think it was worth while but not now.
    If I had the luxury of a massive budget then I would, but sadly most of us don’t have that luxury!

    Reply
  3. Travis Walters

    Thanks for the information – it was really informative and will help me decide whether to get in the Yahoo Directory.

    Reply
  4. Phoenix Marathon

    I am still thinking about having a Yahoo Directory link, because we have a newer website that needs all the help it can get. I hear that Yahoo often doesn’t get rid of links that aren’t paid for after the first year.

    Reply
  5. Martin

    I think for brand new websites being listed on BOTW and Yahoo! in particular are a really good way of gaining authority and trust quickly. Whether it’s as useful for an already established website I’m not so sure. But it could seperate and distinguish your website from your competitors so lots to think about!

    Reply
    1. Ando Hiroshige

      I absolutely second that! The only time you need a Y! listing is either when you have a brand new site or an already established one. Been fighting for top serps with a competitor of mine (a wikipedia page LoL!) for 1 year and a Y! listing did the trick ;)

      Reply
  6. andy

    I’ve noticed there’s a huge amount of broken links in the Yahoo directory in certain categories – do you think that would affect the quality of its links John?

    Andy

    Reply
    1. John McElborough

      I don’t think it particularly affects the trust which Google still seems to place in the domain but it seems like the sort of thing which could damage authority at a page level so. If there’s broken links in your category though it might be worth either a) reporting them to Yahoo or b) buying any expired domains and redirecting them to your own site

      Reply
  7. Sean

    I’ve recently set a driving school Capital Driver Training. I have been thinking about a Yahoo listing to help with Google SEO. In the UK the price is 240 pounds per year. The Yahoo salesman tried extra hard to sell the product. I can’t decide if the yearly fee will be worth it. My website is 6 months old with a few links. I have decent Yahoo, Bing, and Lycos rankings, but poor Google rankings. Any advice appreciated.
    Sean

    Reply
  8. stl advertising agency

    I hear that it is supposed to be worth it, but i never register. I’m going to give it a try. DMOZ is important to consider as well.

    Reply
  9. Ashish Kothari

    Thanks John for this very informative post. I was seriously considering Yahoo submission for one of my clients’ and wanted to reconfirm if it is worth for an established website. In our case – probably not.

    Your suggestions about other link sources are great as well. I’ll probably try one of that now.

    Reply
  10. Ando Hiroshige

    andy is right. tons of broken links on Y! directory but the same applies of DMOZ. Also, you do get good serps with a good listing. Am in the process of trying botw now. Hope it’s good.

    Reply
  11. Pete

    I think the value of Yahoo directory is diminished, surely it is nothing more than a paid link (which Google openly dislikes) and you link will be buried deep in the directory not on a high value busy page. If I had a massive budget then I would probably just pay to get listed on it but if your budget is limited then there are better alternatives

    Reply
  12. Craig Eccles

    Personally I think Yahoo directory breaks all trade laws it promises to add some traffic to your website which is a lie. It should really correctly explain the yahoo directory and tell people what it should be used for (SEO Value) and not direct sales.

    Reply
  13. Roy

    My opinion for what it’s worth is if your competitors are there then it’s probably worth you being there too! I know it’s expensive but you’ve got to do whatever you can these days as link building is very difficult!

    Reply
  14. Bluemels Landscaping

    I have go back and forth on this but I have to agree that this is not worth the money for a local business. There are so many places out their that you can get links from that this is not really worth the cost. I have read somewhere that you can pay 1 time and then stop paying yahoo and they will not remove your listing. That was the only reason I was considering it.

    Reply
  15. Larry

    Yeah, I say no way. At least not for any websites I’ve ever promoted. I’ve paid for a year and was unimpressed to say the least.

    Unless you can get a link in a high-level category there just isn’t enough PR being transferred IMO to justify the price. Same with BOTW. While you do get a trickle from the root domain PR (and possible a little bonus for the domain authority), I don’t think it’s nearly as powerful as having the actual page that your link is on have a decent PageRank.

    When submitting to paid directories I will look at the PR of the actual category page my site will be linked from and decide from there. I’ve found quite a few really nice PR3-PR4 links for less than $40/yr doing this.

    Of course, after a while your link will get pushed to the next page as new listings come in, but depending on the category (local business for instance), you could be there for years soaking up all that link juice.

    Reply
    1. John McElborough

      Thanks for the comment Larry. I’m inclined to agree with you in most cases these days I wouldn’t bother with Yahoo. BOTW maybe, depending on category. The exception in both cases would be where there’s a big budget available and an especially high potential value on target keywords in which case I take any clean links from authority domains I can get.

      Reply
  16. web design

    It’s a good post and you make good points but now I know local businesses who are my competitors and they rankings were like 3rd page of google or so and then suddenly the !st position on google for several words. I thought what’s going on? Looked and checked their back links and DirYahoo was there . And they only have a few other links
    So my point is i thinks it is worth that money

    Reply
  17. Lee

    For me I have never used the Yahoo Directory simply because I have never worked with a site that would make it worthwhile. i would rather have a bunch of links from lesser-known directories for a local site than I would one from Yahoo that is buried so deep that it has the same value as one of the smaller directory links.

    Reply
  18. Dylan

    I am seriously considering whether or not to spend money on submitting to Yahoo’s directory. Probably will take a chance on the free submission. Anyway, thanks for a very informative article.

    Reply
  19. yasser

    actually i was planning to buy a yahoo directory evaluation, but after reading your insights, i changed my mind.

    Reply
  20. Lawrence

    Thanks for advice John.

    I was tempted to get a Yahoo listing, but saw that my site will be 8 levels down.

    So I don’t think it will be a wise investment for me.

    Reply
  21. MegaMind

    The Yahoo Directory certainly helps a new domain attract authority IF as this article suggests it’s not too deep in the category listings.

    You can of course use sites like Opensite Explorer to see what level of authority/link juice those lower categories, specific to your niche provide.

    Reply
  22. Mario games

    I’m still interested in Yahoo listing for gaming related websites. I have checked Yahoo listings and some of the competitors have their websites listed there. I would pay the fee only if it would help my SERP. My website is in top 10 Google search results for some keyword and I would like to be in the top 3.
    Do you think this will do the trick?

    Reply
  23. NABrokers

    Thanks for this. I see a number of out competitors are based in the yahoo directory.. It works out as £187 a year. Which is the same as our monthly budget for adwords. So doubt it is worth it really. I fit was a more reasonable £10 no problem!

    Reply
  24. Rolling Tranmission

    I guess you answer the question, and since my link was buried 10 categories deep, we won’t be renewing

    Regional>U.S. States>Texas>Cities>Houston>Business and Shopping>Shopping and Services>Automotive>Repairs and Service>Transmissions

    Reply
  25. Tom

    Thanks for the advise guy’s. Currently reviewing my link stratergy after writting a blank cheque for the last 7 years. Other than BOTW any other recommedations ?

    Reply
    1. John McElborough

      Looking at your site Tom I’d be concentrating on highly localized link and citation building. Think places like Yell and Thomson rather than big “all the web” directories like Yahoo.

      Reply
  26. Matt

    Well thankyou!

    Helped me make my decision to NOT press the payment button.

    It is only a matter of time surely that the yahoo directory takes a drop in pagerank….as it clearly holds minor user beneficial content.

    Reply
  27. John

    Well written, thanks. This article seems to be about two years old. Has any of your advice changed following Google algorithm updates? I know elimination of paid links has been a focus for Google, and what is a directory listing other than a paid link?

    Reply
  28. Zen Tan

    Hi John,

    My website is about 1 month old. I am in real estate. I have absolutely no links and no ranking. Can you suggest a way to get some links from relevant websites – paid or otherwise. Yahoo fees are steep. Is it worth it? I am also thinking of BOTW.
    But I need more than directories hook up.
    Can you suggest some names where I can go?

    Thanks and Regards,
    Zen

    Reply

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